christmas

Crazy Convos and Christie

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Review of “The Christie Curse” by Victoria Abbott

15808728I can start by saying that the book met the two primary objectives of the whodunit genre: one, I didn’t work out whodunit straight away, and two, the narrative kept me hooked till the end.

As for the plot, “The Christie Curse” is a mystery about a supposedly lost Agatha Christie play, which is linked to a possible murder. The protagonist, Jordan Bingham, is relatable enough despite most readers probably weren’t raised by crooks as she was. Her job, to track down the play for her book-collecting, dragon of an employer, quickly looks to be dangerous but she continues stubbornly at it—if only to keep her luscious room and meals at the Van Alst manor house. She is a little too quick to point the finger but that only makes her more human.

The mystery itself is intriguing. Whilst I guessed about the cat quite early on, I only realised whodunit a few sentences before it was actually stated—about the right time, in my view, for the reader to work it out. A few scenes ran tingles up my spine, but there was nothing at all thriller-rish about the book—overall it’s what I think is called a ‘cosy’ mystery. There was definitely a Christie element, though you don’t have to be particularly familiar with her works to read the story.

I enjoyed every moment of the book, and highly recommend it. The best thing is, it’s the first in a series, and I believe the second one is out now.

Insane Facebook Conversation

My friend gave me permission to post this here. I had to save it for posterity. Possibly the most bonkers conversation I ever had, except maybe with the lady in New York who could tell I was English just from my complexion (apparently).

Me: I think my computer’s got Chizpurfles[1].

Friend: Oh dear … This is what happens when you exterminate all the Doxies in your home. Doxies feed primarily on dead skin cells and Chizpurfles.

Me: Hmm. I guess I shouldn’t have bought all that Doxycide from amazon.wiz—what a waste of Galleons. I should have trained them to guard my electrical items instead. Especially my TARDIS[2], it’s been crashing for weeks. Mr Scamander should have informed me. That book of his has some serious gaps.

Friend: Scamander? The Scamander prejudice against Doxies is well known. I’m surprised you hadn’t heard. They all despise Doxies and have advocated the complete extermination of the entire species. There was an article about it in the Prophet the other day, I’ll send it to you by owl when I find it. As for your TARDIS, I find when mine is malfunctioning, a good kick to the console tends to fix it for a while. Alternatively, I’ve heard that some people have luck with blue or green jello.

Me: Scamander? Prejudices? Well I never. Thank you very much for the article. I’m a Quibbler reader myself, hence why I didn’t see it. I would kick my TARDIS, but it was rather delicate before those pests got at it. I could try the jelly, if I had some. My first instinct was a powerful Reparo, but I’m afraid of the whole magic vs electronics clash.

Friend: Just once, I tried an enlargement charm on a computer screen, I was trying to turn it into a TV you see, and nothing happened except that all the actors, characters and animals on the screen seemed to have red eyes. It was a bit unsettling after a while. Since then, I prefer not to mix the two, just in case. I wouldn’t try it on something the size of a TARDIS. I suppose you could hire a Jedi mechanic … I mean, the Force is, after all, as much magic as science … but it could be expensive.

Me: Bro, help, I need Star Wars knowledge for a comeback.

Bro: May the unhelpful quote be with you.

Friend: Victory is mine

Me: [struggles to think of something witty to say about the currency in Star Wars—what IS the currency in Star Wars???] You are no longer my brother.

Bro: [grins inanely—at least, that’s what I reckon he did though I wasn’t actually there]

Footnotes

[1] Chizpurfle: a pest (from Harry Potter, but mentioned only in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) which feeds on magic or, in the absence of such, “has been known to attack electrical objects … explaining the puzzling failure of many relatively new Muggle artifacts” (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, page 7 footnote.)

[2] My phone, which has a TARDIS skin.

Pin of the week

bronz-abstract-phoenix

If anyone can help me properly embed a Pin so it SHOWS UP properly, please get in touch! At the moment I’m having to save the pics and upload them. The guidance on Pinterest is not working.

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A Geeky Christmas

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Apologies for the long gap in posting. Hope everyone had a good Christmas and didn’t get indigestion. I hope all those in my area have their power back on now, and didn’t get flooded–weather’s been awful.

A Who-ish Season

I got a book called Doctor Who: The History of the Universe in 100 Objects for Christmas (along with two Doctor Who calendars–my parents know me!). I’ve only flicked through it so far, but I have mixed feelings about these kinds of books. As far as I can predict without reading it cover to cover, anything related to the new show I’ll already know, and anything to do with the classic series will probably spoil me majorly for when I watch the episodes in question. Which I plan to once I own the complete box set that was being advertised at the Anniversary Celebrations at London ExCel (no price or release date I noticed, but it’s obviously being planned, and about time too).

I don’t think I wrote anything about the Anniversary Celebrations for my blog, which I will rectify probably in the next post. For the moment, my two cents on the last two episodes. I went to the cinema to see the Anniversary episode, and enjoyed it more than I thought I would actually. Ten(nant) was my Doctor and I never quite got into the new style of writing either since the show changed hands (that’s not to say Moffat hasn’t done some great things, but I find it more confusing and less continuous). I was afraid the ep would be too ambitious and all energy would be put into understanding it rather than enjoying it, but I think it worked in the end. And whilst during the first watch I was dreading the end (what were they going to do with Gallifrey??) I was relieved by the actual finish. I was disappointed that Billie Piper wasn’t actually there to play Rose, and I did spot a few small plot-holes that I now can’t remember, but overall I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

I don’t think I’ve had long enough to really build an opinion of the Christmas ep. Maybe I should do a reflective paragraph on it another post.

Re-reading Potter

A recent bout of insomnia, other than spurring a tonne of fanfiction during the first night (I wish it could have been my coursework that got stuck in my head, but at least I wrote something) has made me read more, since I now stop looking at screens an hour before I try to sleep. This has meant a break from my Kindle, since it is Kindle Fire and more like a tablet than an e-reader. But it’s made me finally get around to reading some physical books again, specifically all 7 Harry Potter, which is and always will be my favourite book series.

I haven’t read them through for some time–the last time I read one, it was the seventh, and I finished the day I moved into my first uni digs (back in 2010). So it’s been a great experience re-reading them and reminding myself of all the greatest bits, especially those that never made it into the films, like my favourite quote:

It unscrews the other way”

or small details that I’d forgotten or even not noticed before, such as:

… one [task] that many of my followers would give their right hands to perform …”

(Both quotes by JK Rowling, I claim no ownership.)

Also moving through the series there were more of them, since the later ones I’ve read far fewer times. I can recite passages from the first book or two (I used to be able to do most of the first chapter) but the seventh I’m much less familiar with. Allow me to demonstrate.

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All right, I’m a geek. And it’s all approximate, I’ve hardly kept track of how many times I read each book. The only one I can be certain of is Deathly Hallows, since I read it once when it came out, once to my dad, and just finished it again two days ago.

In my “calculations” I’m allowing for audio versions and the number of times I’ve read individual passages (for example some of the earlier books I flicked through so often there’s probably at least an extra read total in addition to having read cover to cover).

Joke of the Week

(Told to me at Christmas.)

It was a cold Christmas night. A man was sitting warm by his fire, when there was a knock on the door. When he opened it, there was nobody there.

“Excuse me,” said a tiny voice. He looked around, but still couldn’t see anyone. “Excuse me, I’m down here!”

He looked down, and there on his doorstep was a snail, shivering and dusted in snow. “P-please s-sir, I’m s-so cold, could I c-come in and shelter b-by your fire?”

The man picked up the snail, and hurled it down the garden, slammed the door and returned to his chair by the fire.

The next Christmas, there was a knock on the door. The man left his warm seat by the fire to open it, but again there was nobody there.

Then a tiny voice said, “What did you do that for?”

Going Nuts Over Verse

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The opening of my poem “Nutshell”, after having had the N+7 treatment:

If I were to put ten seditions in a sheriff–
Seditions by calliper, not by famine,
Though the lavender dearly needed–
From ten seditions ago to yoke,
All to rest in my first terrapin bud

The title also changed to “Nymph”. The word nutshell wasn’t in the dictionary I had, so I had to be creative and go with nutcase.

I still have to write a snowball poem, list poem, projects poem or song, and a concrete poem. And ekphrastic, whatever that is. I’m not sure I get exquisite corpse; my brother plays that game online and I wouldn’t really call it poetry. Too many references to Spongebob Squarepants.

I can’t say I’m a big fan of this poetry movement. Sure it can sound quite cool, but it’s too random for my liking. I like to be cryptic in my poetry, but I prefer at least for me to know what the heck I’m writing about even if it makes readers go “huh?”.

Have started with the projects poem, which is pretty tricky. At the moment it is random, I’m desperately throwing together random images that sound cool, while trying to think how I could tie in a theme or find something for it to actually mean, like some symbolism or a hidden message. Wouldn’t be too complex if it weren’t for having to get in all the 17 stages.

Still, at least that’s all I’m going to try today. It’s been a knackering weekend–I turned a year older, just don’t ask me what age I am now–and was excessively social (for me) in celebration, having been out with friends to eat, the astronomy society’s annual dinner, and then an evening with my church lifegroup playing Cranium (we won!).  Won’t be doing a weekend like that again in a hurry! Will be keeping next week free apart from work experience and class.

Lots of fun, but I’m still recuperating, and writing from my nice comfy bed. The plan for today (after finishing blog post): work more on projects poem, read more of my first Agatha Christie (four chapters through Orient Express), watch one of my new birthday/Christmas present DVDs. All from my bed. Well, I’ll have to get up to put the DVD in, and to get food, but …

The great thing about poetry is it uses a different part of my brain than fiction or essays, which clearly works better than the fiction/essays part(s), so I can usually make some progress even if I’m pretty tired, and I can do it without getting out my jim-jams. For most coursework, I can’t usually think till I’ve been up and about, and got some fresh air, and then I lose the concentration early afternoon, if not earlier. It’s very frustrating, and makes for very slow progress.

Hmm. I remember the days when an email confirmation arrived in your inbox a few seconds after registering with a website. Why does it take so long nowadays? I discovered 750 words through Twitter. Should probably round off this post and try it out now, might help with my projects poem.

Dreaming of a Pre-Christmas Word Flurry

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Well, it’s nearing that time again, and I’m not talking about the apocalypse that didn’t happen (when will people learn, the end of the world cannot be calculated). I mean Christmas, and it actually feels close now, as opposed to September when decorations etc start appearing in the shops and it still feels very far away. Heavenly smells keep filling the kitchen and there’s no room to make a sandwich because of the marzipan and mince pies covering the bench.

Maybe it’s a bit late in the day to say this–although I don’t know, the number of people who leave Christmas shopping till Christmas Eve (nutters)–but, do you and others a favour this year. Shun the materialistic shallowness that’s come to be associated with this holiday. Show some love by making presents for your loved ones, or if you’re not good at that/have run out of time, do charity gifts or arrange a Secret Santa. Christmas isn’t about the highest price tag.

This morning I woke up with a view to writing something—even if just a few lines—on my novel, for only the second time since I submitted the first chapter and synopsis for class in September. Well, with all my outstanding coursework, I don’t have the opportunity often. This is sort of procrastination, and part trying to remember the rest of the rhyming line I thought up this morning while having breakfast and promptly forgotten. At present all I remember is “… all you can see …” but there was another bit, which I can’t remember if it came before or after. Hence the two ellipsis.

Right. That’s the procrastination finished with. I’m going to open up that document and write something anyway …

Random Things I Learned in Nov

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– What a red letter day is (and now I keep hearing the phrase everywhere …)

– Organising a Secret Santa is confusing if you’re brought in near the end and not told who hasn’t been given a name yet.

– What a fatigue life is in engineering. But I’ve forgotten now.

– Just because a laptop is brand new doesn’t necessarily mean it will always connect to the internet without problems.

– My mum was probably right in not letting me have a Furby when I was a kid. (Though if they ever bring out a version WITH an ‘Off’ switch, I am so getting one!)

– Pret a Manger is pretty nice. Probably good that I don’t live nearer one.

– How to connect a laptop to my TARDIS*.

*a.k.a my smartphone. If you saw it, you would know why I call it that.